Despite that he has an appeal for many people. Why? He appears to be the very picture of being full of himself. He is arrogant, bordering on pompous, and almost crass. I wonder if at least in part he is popular with some people precisely because he is so iconoclastic. I believe that many people are bone weary of the political class that fills our airwaves with their talk constantly. For them everything seems to be calculated in political terms. There is something we can’t help but like about a guy who just lets it fly, who says, “I don’t care one whit for your politics and frankly I don’t need them.” Trump says if the President thing doesn’t work out he’ll just go back to being a billionaire. I think a lot of people like that. They’ve had enough of “leaders” whose first and maybe only priority is to make sure they stay in office somewhere.
Trump’s appeal may also come from something else that he offers. He offers hope. What I heard from him was a message that had faint echoes of Ronald Reagan back in 1980. Like Reagan he holds out hope and a vision of better days, of a return to prosperity. He claims to have a plan for rebuilding the infrastructure of our nation and for revitalizing the economy. He envisions an economy so robust that it will provide the tax revenue necessary to solve the fearsome problem of our massive national debt. All this he would accomplish, he claims, while easing the tax burden on the middle class. As I listened I found myself thinking “How I want to believe this. How I wish this could actually come true.” I suspect Donald Trump is far from where I stand on many moral issues and is likely a long way from being a paragon of Christian virtue. Yet his message of hope stirred something in me. Unfortunately it appeared to me that while he talks in glowing terms, he had few specifics and details on just how he is going to accomplish all of this if he is elected President. The devil is in the details. That may be what sinks his ship. And of course, I have this sad suspicion deep inside me that even if he has good ideas that might in fact bring about his stated vision, somehow the dysfunction in Washington would keep it from ever happening.
My interest here actually isn’t in evaluating Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. That is neither my role nor my calling. What interested me about this was my own reaction to Trump. First, I noticed my appreciation, as I said, for his willingness to say whatever he thinks and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t know about other people, but I long for leaders who can be bold and honest rather than continually calculating and politically correct. I admire a person who is that courageous. As I reflected on this I realized that one reason I admire this trait is that I see it perfectly displayed in Jesus. In Matthew 15:12 after Jesus had confronted his opponents once again his disciples said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” His response in verse 14 was, “Leave them; they are blind guides.” He was referring to the most powerful people in his nation. He didn’t care. At the very end of his life as he stood before Pontius Pilate he was not the least bit intimidated. According to John 19:11 when Pilate stated that he had the power to either free Jesus or crucify him, Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Jesus at times said things that he knew would confuse and even offend some of his listeners. But he never backed down. So oddly even though I would say that Donald Trump would never, ever be confused with Jesus, as I reflected on him the result was I had an even greater admiration for the Lord Jesus. I love what a courageous man he was.
There is one other reaction that I had to Trump that I think is important. I see how my own heart greatly responds to a message of hope. I do recall how Ronald Reagan came to office when our nation was truly at a low point and how he restored us for a time to prosperity, hope and leadership. I found I longed for something like that to happen again. Oh how we need hope. Hope is the one thing that can keep us going when we feel like giving up. The human soul needs hope the way our bodies need oxygen. Without it we die. As I thought about this I realized that we need a far greater hope than Donald Trump or any other man can ever give us. Certainly it would be nice if our economy improved and things got better in our nation. But that is not what we most need. Even if that happened we would find our souls longing for an even greater hope. What we need is hope that our lives truly mean something, hope that our guilt can be forgiven, hope that God truly loves us, and hope of life eternal. No presidential candidate, no political leader, no human being can ever give us that kind of hope. If we have that hope we can have lives of peace, confidence and joy no matter what our circumstances may be. And if we don’t have that hope no matter how good our circumstances may be, we will never be at rest and we will never feel our lives are full. So to my surprise what I find is that as I reflect on Donald Trump I am once again more thankful than ever for the blessed hope we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.